An Introduction to Open Science
Open science is a policy priority for the European Commission and is the standard method of working under its research and innovation funding programmes, as it improves the quality, efficiency and responsiveness of research.
As such, the Commission requires beneficiaries of all research and innovation funding, to make their publications available in open access and make their data as open as possible and as closed as necessary.
To help beneficiaries to meet this requirement, the Commission has launched a new Open Access publishing platform Open Research Europe which is dedicated to providing all Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe beneficiaries and their collaborators with an easy, high quality venue to publish their research at no cost to themselves.
What is Open Science?
A widely cited definition of open science (an interchangeable term with 'open research’ and ‘open scholarship’) is an approach to the scientific process based on open cooperative work, tools and diffusing knowledge.
Open science aims to open up access to all parts of the research process (e.g. methods, results, publications, data, software, materials, tools and peer reviews) across academic subject areas to increase collaboration, disseminate knowledge, improve transparency and reproducibility of research, and support research integrity.
How does Open Science benefit me as a researcher?
Greater transparency in the research process improves research integrity, inspires a more collective research culture and provides a greater confidence and trust in published findings.
Higher citation rates, views, downloads and media attention has been found for articles which are openly available. By also publishing your data and materials, you increase the opportunity of further citable outputs for every project you work on.
Greater opportunities for collaboration are enabled when publications and associated data and materials are more widely available.
Greater efficiencies (and value for money) as research does not need to be repeated. Software code, data and materials can be shared and reused enabling others to build upon new ideas right away. Research also becomes more reproducible.
Increased visibility, impact and availability of research that isn’t hidden behind a paywall has the potential to raise researchers’ profiles both within and outside their subject area.
Compliance with funder and institution policies that are increasingly supporting open science practices.
Separating the Open Science facts from fiction
There are misconceptions about open science and it can be difficult to distinguish the facts from the fiction. We’ve compiled answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions on this topic to help provide an accurate picture of open science, its place in academia and how it benefits researchers.
Fiction: It’s not possible to share certain types of data
Facts: True, there are cases where it is not possible to share data for many reasons such as confidentiality and security obligations or an obligation to protect personal data. However, it is important for you and those who will get the chance to re-use your results that data is made FAIR: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable. A data availability statement enables a reader to understand where the data associated with an article is available, and under what conditions the data can be accessed.
If your data is sensitive for ethical, data protection or confidentiality reasons, it may still be possible to share it following appropriate anonymization and/or using controlled or delayed access. In the case of data that really cannot or should not be shared, you can share your metadata instead. This description of your data is known as a ‘metadata record’ and improves the discoverability of your work, whilst protecting any sensitive information.
Open Peer Review
Fiction: It will harm my reputation if my work is critiqued/ I don’t want to openly critique someone more senior
Facts: There are tangible benefits to open peer review, both to you as a researcher and to you as a peer-reviewer. As a researcher, having your work reviewed openly means creating a more collaborative and constructive approach which should ultimately improve your publication. It can also save you time since you will be in direct dialogue with your reviewer/s.
As a reviewer, the same is also true – an open and honest dialogue is usually more constructive. Furthermore, the benefits can be significant since peer review reports are independently citable, maximizing your visibility and making your work more discoverable.
In both cases, more than harming your reputation, open peer review gives you a chance to enhancing it.
Fiction: Open science publication platforms only publish low quality research
Facts: Simply put, this is not the case. The presence of an editorial board, clear publishing policies and a robust peer review process are all indicators of a well-founded open publishing option. In addition, an increasing number of funding agencies, institutions and organizations are keen to support a broad view of a researcher’s by signing up to DORA.
The intrinsic value of what is published, shared and re-used is what is important, as opposed to the venue, journal or platform where an article is published. There are things to look out for to make sure you choose the right open access publishing option, but the open access/open science movement is becoming more widely accepted and more and more funders are mandating that research outputs are published open access.
Open Research Europe is the European Commission’s new publishing service, providing all Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe beneficiaries and their researchers with an easy, high quality peer-reviewed venue to publish their papers open access, at no cost to them, and in full compliance with the European Commission’s open access policies.
The platform champions open science principles by immediately publishing articles, followed by transparent, invited and open peer review with the inclusion of all supporting data and materials. The names of the reviewers will be open, as well as their reviews, which will also be citable. The European Commission strongly supports the view that publications should be judged on their intrinsic value and so a wide range of article-level metrics are available to provide indications of use and reuse, and to support responsible research and researcher assessment and evaluation.
At the core of the Commission’s aim for a high-quality publishing venue for EU research, is a diverse Scientific Advisory Board, adherence to scientifically rigorous policies and guidelines, and a robust and transparent peer review process.
Through building Open Research Europe, the Commission aims to:
- Provide a high-quality service that meets general and discipline-specific standards of scientific publishing.
- Reinforce its position as a funder that leads by example in operationalizing open science.
- Encourage technology-enabled innovation in scholarly communication.
- Support the integrity and transparency of the research process and reproducibility of research.
- Contribute towards transparency and cost effectiveness in scientific publishing, as well as towards the exploration of sustainable open access business models.
Benefits of Open Research Europe
If you’re a Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe grant holder you are eligible to publish your research on Open Research Europe, with your APC covered by the European Commission.